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Love conquers all... as terminally-ill Samantha Gamble finally weds her Frankie

Co Down couple's joy as they overcome obstacles to marry in back garden

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Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne (centre) after their wedding yesterday, with Kevin McGuinness and Samantha’s children, Jessica and Stephen

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne (centre) after their wedding yesterday, with Kevin McGuinness and Samantha’s children, Jessica and Stephen

The couple with a bouquet from the Belfast Telegraph

The couple with a bouquet from the Belfast Telegraph

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne

It was a day that Co Down couple Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne thought would never happen.

But on Friday after facing down cancer, cancellations, coronavirus restrictions and health emergencies, terminally-ill bride Samantha and Frankie were finally able to say "I do".

The Loughbrickland couple, who have been together for 12 years and share three children, got engaged two years ago, just months before Samantha was diagnosed with cancer, and had set a date of May 29, 2020 for their big day. In the two years that followed, the couple faced challenge after challenge together as Samantha's cancer spread. In July of last year, she was told the disease had spread to her lungs and was terminal.

She was given a prognosis of just two years. The couple vowed to embrace every day that they had.

When the coronavirus gripped the world and countries began to shut down, Samantha and Frankie's much anticipated wedding in a Banbridge registry office was cancelled.

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Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne (centre) after their wedding yesterday, with Kevin McGuinness and Samantha’s children, Jessica and Stephen

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne (centre) after their wedding yesterday, with Kevin McGuinness and Samantha’s children, Jessica and Stephen

Samantha Gamble and Frankie Byrne (centre) after their wedding yesterday, with Kevin McGuinness and Samantha’s children, Jessica and Stephen

Strict social distancing and stay-at-home orders meant that there was no way the couple could get married.

But when Samantha was rushed to hospital three weeks ago in agony, and it was discovered her cancer had now spread to her head and neck, her partner, Frankie, set about moving mountains to marry his love.

As doctors at the City Hospital fought to stabilise Samantha's condition, Frankie, Samantha's daughter, Jessica, and her cousin, Vivienne, set about getting the laws changed and last week, Stormont's First and Deputy First Ministers, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill, agreed to allow marriage ceremonies in which a person is terminally-ill as part of the first steps in lifting lockdown measures.

On Friday morning, Frankie and Samantha stood in the back garden of their Loughbrickland home and took their vows in front of her daughter, Jessica, and son, Stephen, and Frankie's best friend of 25 years, Kevin McGuinness.

Samantha wore a pretty pale pink dress that had been picked out by her daughter, Jessica, while her mother was in hospital and Frankie put his late mother Peggy's wedding ring onto his new bride's finger in an emotionally charged simple ceremony.

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The couple with a bouquet from the Belfast Telegraph

The couple with a bouquet from the Belfast Telegraph

The couple with a bouquet from the Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of people across Northern Ireland sent their well wishes to the couple via the Belfast Telegraph social media pages on Friday following Samantha's exclusive interview on the eve of her wedding.

Just hours before the wedding, Samantha said: "Life has thrown many challenges at us, but love has remained throughout. And if anything, it has made that love stronger. It means so much to be Frankie's wife. It just means the world that I can say 'that's my husband' and that we are together, through everything. I can't wait to be Mrs Byrne."

Belfast Telegraph